‘Ageless Asi’ leads Road Warriors in clash with Hotshots
NLEX puts its unbeaten record on the line Sunday when the Road Warriors, led by the ageless Asi Taulava, slug it out with Star in the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations at PhilSports Arena in Pasig.
Only NLEX, Rain or Shine and Alaska have been untouched so far in the young season-opening tournament with the Aces having a chance to win a fourth straight game for the solo lead in a battle against Barangay Ginebra in Dubai at press time.
Alaska edged Mahindra, 98-94, in the first of two games at Al Wasl Sports Club in Dubai, scoring the squeaker on Saturday before returning to the floor 24 hours later to slug it out with the Gin Kings.
The Aces came up with a hot start but needed a strong finish to rise to 3-0, getting the goods from Calvin Abueva and JV Casio in the stretch as they joined the Elasto Painters in a momentary tie for the lead.
Vic Manuel scored 12 of his 17 points in the first half, which the Aces closed out with a 15-point lead, before the Enforcers tied it all up at 87-all only to fall short for the third straight game and remain without a win in the 41st Season.
LA Revilla, the tiny point guard out of La Salle in the UAAP, paced the Enforcers with 19 points and six assists. Boxing icon Manny Pacquiao started out and played close to seven minutes and wound up scoreless.
The Road Warriors have won their first two games behind the leadership of the 42-year-old Taulava, who is expected to have his hands full against the Hotshots loaded frontline that includes the comebacking Ian Sangalang and Marc Pingris in the 5:15 p.m. game.
Star, the champion here two seasons ago, is at 1-2 under new coach Jason Webb but seems to have an obvious edge in manpower against the Road Warriors.
James Yap, the former two-time MVP, Peter June Simon and Mark Barroca will be the main offensive options for the Hotshots, who will be coming off a 101-94 loss to Globalport.
Incidentally, the Batang Pier and another giant killer in Barako Bull will be slugging it out in the 3 p.m. contest with both looking to stay above .500.
The Energy will be coming into the game at a high after having brought down the Gin Kings, 82-79 last week in a game that saw them rise from a 21-point first quarter deficit.
Globalport will be an entirely different kind of a foe for the Energy compared to Ginebra, with the Batang Pier a much smaller squad that likes to run at any given opportunity.
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